We are great ones for regulations in this country. We imagine that as soon as some new policy or other has been put to paper that it will take on a life of its own and solve a myriad of problems. The reality is often very different.
At the beginning of the year, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald introduced new regulations on English language schools, primarily aimed at stamping out so-called visa factories but also concerned with proper governance and education standards as well as ensuring that students who paid advance deposits were not left out of pocket in the event of a school closing down.
Considering that these privately run schools attract thousands of foreign students to Ireland every year it would have been anticipated that dozens of inspections would have been carried out to ensure that these educational establishments are up to standard. The fact that only 10 inspections were made is a cause of great concern and points to a lack of commitment by the Government to real reform of an education sector that has seen systemic failures over the past few years.
Proper monitoring cannot be carried out through documentation alone. One on-site inspection will tell more than a dozen documents as to how an establishment is run.
The Department of Justice’s own figures show approximately 15,500 foreign students learning English here. Ten into 15,500 simply doesn’t go.
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